By Stacey Longo
The Collector of Dying Breaths is the latest offering from M.J. Rose, and marks the return of Jac L’Etoile, the heroine we first met in The Book of Lost Fragrances. If you haven’t read Fragrances, don’t worry: Dying Breaths is set up as a stand-alone novel, and you’ll quickly become enchanted with Jac, her brother Robbie, and her former lover, Griffin. Jac is quickly engulfed in a quest to create an elixir that will bring souls back to life using a person’s last, dying breath. Her patrons are the mysterious Greek heiress, Melinoe and Melinoe’s stepbrother, Serge, whose sibling relationship raises many questions for Jac. As Griffin assists Jac in her pursuit to recreate the elixir following notes left behind by Rene le Florentine, the two are drawn into the past life of Rene, his lover Isabeau, and the dynamic, manipulative Catherine de Medici.
The novel intertwines flashbacks to the life of Rene with the present-day difficulties that Jac must deal with, and mysteries surround both. Will the malicious Cosimo Ruggieri, advisor to Queen Catherine and dabbler in the dark arts, bring an end to Rene’s favored position with the queen? To what lengths will the eccentric Melinoe go to find the rare, ancient ingredients needed to recreate Rene’s elusive potion? And how many lives will be lost as both of these plans are carried out?
The Collector of Dying Breaths creates suspense and intrigue with every page, making it difficult to put down. Rose captivates us with a story about relationships past and present, and the basest of human emotions: love, greed, and betrayal.
The Collector of Dying Breaths will be published on April 8.